Yamaha’s Disklavier Technology a Hit at International Institute for Young Musicians
Students enrolled in exclusive program interact directly with renowned instructors in remote locations without leaving their classrooms.
Gifted young pianists from around the globe were introduced to the performance and educational capabilities of Yamaha Disklavier technology recently at the prestigious International Institute for Young Musicians’ Summer Music Academy at the University of Kansas.
The International Institute for Young Musicians
(IIYM) helps students translate their artistic vision into mastery of performance through direct, practical, and fully involved guidance from a faculty of internationally renowned professionals. The camp, which ran July 13-25, drew 70 young global participants, including the United States, China, Mexico and Korea. The IIYM Summer Music Academy, under the direction of Dr. Scott McBride Smith, is a highly selective and intensive course of study for young musicians.
The academy participants were delighted this year to participate in a pair of unique learning experiences thanks to Yamaha Disklavier reproducing pianos, which can faithfully record and play back performances with each note and nuance delivered precisely as the pianist originally performed it. Yamaha’s interactive piano distance-learning technology allowed the academy in Kansas to remotely interface with two renowned piano teachers: George Litterst
, who gave a lesson from his Massachusetts studio, and Dr. Stella Sick
, who offered a remote master class from Minnesota for select students.
“Not only did our students get to see firsthand and for the first time what a remarkable piano the Disklavier is, but they also got to interact with two incredibly talented music teachers who didn’t have to travel to Kansas to share their knowledge with these young musicians because of the remote instruction capabilities of this incredible technology,” said Dr. Smith, who serves as the Cordelia Brown Murphy Professor of Piano Pedagogy at the University of Kansas.
First introduced in 1987 and now in its fifth generation of refinements, the Disklavier piano has been imbued with powerful networking capability that enables two or more instruments to be connected via the Internet through Yamaha’s Remote Lesson technology. This innovative application enabled Dr. Sick located in Minnesota to play a piece on the piano, while students sat listening, watching and learning that same piece recreated "live" on a second, Internet connected Disklavier located at the University of Kansas. The keys and pedals on each Disklavier will move up and down as student and teacher play or demonstrate to one another, while video-conferencing allows real-time communication, as though all participants were sitting next to one another.
Dr. Smith said the Disklavier arrived shortly before the Young Musicians International Piano Competition, which opened the Summer Academy. “It drew a great deal of interest and excitement from our faculty and the staff,” Dr. Smith explained. “Several crawled under the piano to get a better look. Students were not at first aware that it was a Disklavier, since the remote lesson sessions came later in our two-week Summer Music Academy. They viewed it simply as a grand piano, and were delighted with its rich tone and responsive touch. The Disklavier was a big hit, simply as a piano.”
Smith said that Litterst, a nationally recognized pianist and music educator, “opened the students’ eyes to the remote capabilities of this marvelous technology.” His interactive presentation using the Disklavier virtually erased the more than 1,400 miles between the Summer Music Academy in Kansas and Litterst’s high-tech home studio in Rehoboth, MA.
“Students actually squealed with excitement when they saw the keys and pedals go up and down on the Disklavier here in Kansas exactly as George was playing his own Disklavier in far-away Massachusetts,” Dr. Smith said.
Litterst, considered a leader in the use of technology for music education, said the Disklavier broadens opportunities to teach and learn. “This technology is a gateway for a music education experience that connects student and teacher, performer and performer, and pianist and audience in a way unlike anything else,” Litterst explained. “The Disklavier’s ability to accurately reproduce performances note-for-note makes it ideal for remote lessons and interactive performance evaluations.”
Later that week, Dr. Sick, an adjunct assistant professor at Hamline University in St. Paul and managing director of the International Piano-e-Competition and e-Piano Junior Competition hosted by the University of Minnesota School of Music, led a master class from the Minneapolis/St. Paul region for three of the top students at the Summer Music Academy.
“These remote lessons are a perfect example of how this technology and the unique capabilities of the Disklavier can interactively connect students with top professional musicians and teachers without the two parties having to be in the same country or city, much less the same room,” said Jim Levesque, Disklavier marketing manager, Yamaha Corporation of America. “The Yamaha Disklavier provides unprecedented opportunities for students, schools and other music education programs to engage with musicians and teachers they might not have been able to before.”